Jori Finkel chronicles the action at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Collectors Committee Weekend, a group acquisitions event that the museum’s director likens to a museum version of American Idol:
On Saturday morning, several LACMA curators took the stage in a museum auditorium to make impassioned sales pitches for proposed acquisitions. At a museum gala that night, arts patrons who had paid dues to help create a kitty for acquisitions got to vote on particular purchases. […]
This group goes beyond LACMA trustees. This year a total of 66 couples participated, raising $1.8 million for art. It was enough to buy five of the eight works presented.
After voting for the tiger, for sale by a Kyoto gallery, the group chose a 39-piece collection of Tibetan furniture that California couple Ruth and Robert Hayward agreed to offer the museum at $500,000, even though it has been appraised at over $1.1 million. The committee also bought a bold 1879 oil painting of Madame Paul Duchesne-Fournet by French painter Jean-Jacques Henner for $335,000.
The remaining funds went to more contemporary works: a 1974 photographic suite by John Baldessari called “Portrait: Artist’s Identity Hidden with Various Hats” for $500,000, and a 2009 neon installation by Glenn Ligon that plays on the word “America” for $100,000. (A sixth work, a mixed-media portrait by contemporary Iranian artist Samira Alikhanzadeh, was removed from the popular vote earlier that day, when collectors who liked it made a separate pledge of $15,000 to cover the full purchase price.)
New Treasures for LACMA (Los Angeles Times)